It’s a Spring Thing… rebirth, new growth and spring cleaning. While setting out a few new Boston ferns on the porch, the old ones lingered as winter shelter for birds. Upon inspection prior to tossing the plants, a nest with 5 tiny eggs. Hark… a Carolina wren decided to take up residence and rear her little ones in this not so decorative birdhouse. Rather unsightly after enduring through winter, the fern was moved a few feet to the end of the porch. Would she find it and continue to brood? Since most birds are pretty smart, chances were strong.
Because Carolina wrens are known to nest in the craziest places, it’s a good idea (and highly recommended) to check old outdoor potted plants before tossing. Knick-nacks on the porch like baskets pots or vases should be checked for nest activity prior to cleaning, moving or discarding them as these sweet songbirds seem to prefer a closeness to their hosts.
Fretting and watching for signs of mama, the plant was inspected a few days later to find the babies had hatched… success! Now it’s only a matter of days before the not so decorative birds’ home can be discarded. Not all birds use houses, and because nests are highly camouflaged in trees and shrubs, it’s a good idea to hold off pruning and major spring clean-up until fall.
Offering safe places to nest for those who are cavity dwellers helps species thrive.Wooden bird houses are always a good bet, as are vinyl and ceramic. Metal is questionable as afternoon sun could bake nestlings if not protected by shade. Ventilation and drainage are important factors in keeping babies dry and comfy too.
Cool birdhouses like this moss and wicker number are handmade of materials birds already know, it’s perfect on the porch or any protected area for a natural yet whimsical touch. Wooden houses needn’t be boring either, just properly sized with bird-friendly features and sturdiness to raise the kids. Happy Spring!
Mama Blue sure was busy the last few days. As of the previous nest check there were 0 eggs, but 4 today, an egg-stravaganza… like a special Easter gift!
The whole episode started with a squabble between blues and chickadees over blue bird houses and who will nest where. Not uncommon at all for birds to remove others’ nesting material and raise a ruckus, but never had we seen activity like this before. Mr. Blue not only removed the moss from the birdhouse he wanted… he placed the material in a nearby house as if to say “okay, chickadee, you nest here!” The chickadee would then retrieve the moss Mr. Blue had placed inside! This activity went on for about 20 minutes until we were the ones who actually gave up!
Their nests are completely different, so the winner of choice number one box was confirmed the next day. Chickadees use moss, hair, feathers, and maybe wood chips, while Eastern bluebirds construct their nests with mostly pine needles, dried grasses or weeds. But no eggs, and a week later… no eggs 🙁 And then today 4 perfectly colored, beautiful bluebird eggs.
Not only in the Southeast, but as far north as IL and NY, bluebirds are starting earlier than usual.
Longer days and warmer temperatures have much to do with it. Availability of insects nudged the earlier than usual nest starts too. So as long as the weather cooperates (no snow/ice storms or drenching rains) bluebirds will be lucky to have a good season, with at least two, possibly three broods. Grow strong and thrive little blues!
Happy Easter to All…
May you find bluebird eggs in your house today!
Part of the beauty of heated bird baths is their year-round use and versatility when it comes to accessories. The first day of spring with temperatures reaching into the 70’s, it’s time to tuck cords and/or remove heaters (in the Southeast anyway).
Opt for a water wiggler, bird bath fountain or mister. And above all, remember juveniles’ safety by adding a large rock or river stones for better footing and ease of exiting water quickly if necessary.
Every year around this time, we remove heaters for storage. Out of the same bin comes the good stuff! Bath drippers, leaf misters, the water wiggler and fountain… because moving water simply rocks! It stays fresher longer, prevents stagnation so mosquitoes can’t lay eggs, and birds love it!
Choices are many and you can’t go wrong unless the water level exceeds 4 inches- it’s too deep and birds can drown. Optimal depth is just 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and a bath with sloped sides is ideal for birds to just walk out.
Fountains may be solar or electric, water wigglers run on batteries, while misters and drippers run off the outdoor spigot. These actually use very little water, and butterflies adore the gentle mist as well. They simulate an avian spa with summer activity that promises to amaze! Accessories like these last year after year, making them an ideal investment for the garden and birds!
And for a few ideas from our our own habitat:Follow @allpetsupplieso
They all do… when placed correctly!
It’s just baffling to us when folks claim they can’t keep the pesky critters out of bird feeders! With about 15 different feeders at our own place, squirrels simply aren’t an issue. Yes, we feed them too and no, it’s never enough!
There’s lots of trees and lots of squirrels too- enough for a football game, but they’re relegated to their own feeders along the tree line, peanut butter slapped on a tree when it’s cold, and whatever falls on the ground from bird feeders. They may not seem too happy with the arrangement, but we are and dually so for the birds 🙂
When placing a feeder with a squirrel baffle, it’s well worth five extra minutes of time to plan your strategy. After all, it is a war, but with the right tactics… you can easily win!
One of the biggest, most important issues is the horizontal launching point! You baffle a pole so they can’t climb up, and you hang a baffle over a feeder so they can’t climb down. But none of this even matters if they can jump sideways from something to gain access. And that’s just what they’ll do, with fancy acrobatics and uber-squirrel strength… they’ll launch themselves as much as 10 feet clear over to the feeder if there’s a a good place or thing from where to jump!
Pole mounted squirrel baffles should be placed so the bottom is at least 4 ft. from the ground. If any closer, the critters won’t even bother trying to climb – they’ll jump right up, bypassing the baffle from ground level. Even when placing a feeder that uses a hanging baffle, be sure there’s a 10 ft. clearance between the feeder and any other object such as a tree, railing, wood pile, bench… anything!
Squirrels will test your patience, and they’ll have you believing they’ve won the war. But with a one-time investment in a decent squirrel baffle, and five minutes of thought, you’ll save tons of birdseed and your nerves when dealing with furry critters raiding your feeders!
It’s official… Ruby Throat Hummingbirds have landed along the panhandle and are headed your way!
For the 2016 season, reports show the tiny sprites have made their way to land in their usual spots along the Gulf of Mexico. Possibly a little early this year? It seems we’re always surprised by Mother Nature’s targeted timing, regardless of weather. They’ve journeyed far, some along land masses and some over water, but you can bet all are tired and hungry once they arrive.
Fat reserves have been depleted during migration, so they’re definitely on the hunt for immediate food sources. Luckily this winter has been kinder than previous ones, so some natural food sources may be available in the deep south. Feeders, feeders and more hummingbird feeders is what they’re seeking! Returning to most of the spots they frequented last year, hummingbirds are known for site fidelity. They come back to the same yards (summer breeding grounds) if habitat was good to them last time! Amazingly enough, even the juveniles from last season know to return to the same place.
Now’s the time to dig out feeders from storage and give them a good cleaning. Maybe even time for a new feeder if there was too much fuss over territory last year? Placing one feeder in the front and one in the back may feed more hummingbirds than two feeders within site of each other because some can be such bullies!
A few tips to make it the best season ever:
This handy self-measure pitcher lets you make perfect nectar every time without even measuring – so now there’s really no excuse! Mix and store in one container, no measuring cup, no spoon, no ratios to remember… simple as can be!
Offer nesting material that’s made especially for hummingbirds, it’s even endorsed by The Hummingbird Society. Other birds may also partake, but Hummer Helper is proven to bring more sprites to your feeders because once babies fledge, they’ll learn to feed from nectar sources.
Ants got you down? Hummingbirds get bummed out too! A really small one-time purchase will save batches of nectar from spoiling in feeders. Just one ant ruins the entire contents. They must emit something really awful?
Keep your ant moat filled with water and keep the pests at bay (because ants can’t swim). Your hummingbirds will thank you.
Welcome back little ones… so many folks are eagerly awaiting your return!
So you’ve put up the house, but no bluebirds. Then you try every conceivable bluebird treat on the planet, but still no blues. You know they’re in the area, the color and song are unmistakable. So why aren’t they coming to your place?
Habitat is, and will always be a key factor when trying to entice feathered friends. Bluebirds do prefer open spaces, with perching spots from where they can swoop and hunt insects. Fresh water in a birdbath (a consistent and clean source) is a big one. Birds who may not use feeders still require water. Shelter and cover (evergreens, trees & shrubs) are very important for protection from predators and the elements. Food is the other key part, and if you want bluebirds, it may take their very favorite… live mealworms!
You can finally attract bluebirds and keep them coming back by offering live worms. Creepy, crawly? Maybe just a little at first, but ya get used to it fast 🙂 Handling and storing live worms is simple! The graphic below shows what to do when they arrive and how to keep them fat and happy.
Mealworm feeders range from open dish-style, fly-ins and covered tray-types, to the small kitchen bowl on your deck rail, clay saucer on the porch, and even a plastic container tacked to a tree! Fancy feeder not required… just some improvisation. And we promise, the bluebirds don’t really care as long as worms are easily accessible for them (and not every other bird in the yard). Yes, mealies are extremely popular with many of the backyard avian crews! Should you discover too many other birds stealing worms, a caged or fly-in type feeder may be better suited. But if you’re a little bird-crazy like us… then everybody gets some worms 🙂Follow @allpetsupplieso
It may seem like spring’s a ways off, but as far north as New England, bluebirds are on the move to pair off, claim nest boxes & territories and start their broods!
Photos by David Kinneer… with many thanks for sharing these amazing shots! To visit his awesomely inspiring bluebird images and slideshows, head over to SmugMug… it’s most definitely worth your time!
The image above shows the wing wave or wing tip and it’s one of the advanced ways bluebirds communicate with each other. Especially during courtship (happening now) it’s almost an animated signal that says “Come check this nice bluebird house and let’s pair up!” Of course the Mrs. will have to inspect and approve the new digs before the deal is sealed.
Now’s also the time when young blues who fledged last spring start getting kicked around by parents. No more big happy families when it comes to nesting, all bets are off. Parents will chase their own sons and daughters from territories they claim for the season. A little sad to watch but all part of Mother Nature’s pecking order (no pun intended).
David’s galleries include images/slideshows of many bluebird scenarios, from weather to predators, fledging babies and feeding, it’s truly remarkable and so informative through his images only (nothing to read).
With natural nesting places disappearing- real estate is tough out there for bluebirds and other cavity dwelling birds. Offering a safe place to raise young is both helpful and rewarding. By safe we refer to suitable housing (preferably Bluebird Society Approved) and the commitment to be a responsible landlord. If house sparrows are prevalent in the area, it’s best to avoid putting up a bluebird house just to let them nest… they’re a bluebirds’ nightmare.
The website Sialis.org offers a wealth of information that’s easy to understand and follow. In fact, you might get hooked there too! Between David’s bluebird gallery and Sialis… well, there went the night! Happy Birding 🙂Follow @allpetsupplieso
Here’s why birdhouses are a great choice for Valentine’s Day
Because they’re purchases with purpose! They add value and beauty to our lives and to those around us. They bring song, color and life to our spaces through those visitors who use them.
Granted one will see more activity at a feeder, but real estate is scarce out there, so please help house the birds! Competition for natural nesting space is ever increasing, and most cavity-dwelling birds would be happy to raise their young and call any of these unique birdhouses “home”.
Among those birds who use houses; bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, wrens, finches purple martins and more. As a side note, owls, ducks and bats will take you up on man-made nest boxes as well. Because their habitats are also shrinking, providing places for shelter and successful broods can prove most rewarding.
Styles range to suit all tastes, from basic to mod to vintage. Materials are just as varied, from copper and PVC/vinyl, wood, ceramic, even driftwood!
There’s absolutely something for everyone and something for every birdhouse-using species!
Those who don’t fancy birdhouses? Robins, blue jays, cardinals and goldfinches to name a few of the more common birds. But they’ll take up residence in trees, shrubs and hedges if the habitat suits them. They’ll use bird feeders and frequent your birdbath too.
This Valentine’s Day, nix the chocolate and short-lived flowers. Opt for an artful creation with purpose… and please help house the birds 🙂Follow @allpetsupplieso
Appropriate for him, for her, and of course the birds, our copper roof birdhouses are simply stunning and superb quality… and we’ll even deliver the larger ones personally- with discounts available (but you gotta call us first).
Post-mounted with majestic appearance, the real beauty lies in their PVC construction. Although these birdhouses and feeders look like wood… you’ll find none is used. The decorative brackets are vinyl and the finial is a composite resin. It means these fine bird abodes will never split, crack, rot, fade or mildew. Impervious to insect damage too, all roofs lift easily for either nest removal or filling the feeders. Complete with drainage and ventilation for cozy nests, they’re virtually maintenance-free! We can even save you on the handsome post cover too- just ask!
Make this Valentine’s Day super special with a copper roof birdhouse that’s guaranteed to last for life. Available from bluebird to martin size (estate)- which does require some space. By the way, martin scouts have been spotted in northern FL, filtering into GA, AL and SC already. Come on Spring!
Flowers are nice but it’s not too late for something great. Show some love with an architectural birdhouse for the landscape. It adds curb appeal and promises to have birds, neighbors and your special Valentine saying wow!
How awesome to still see the sun out at 6:00 p.m. The days are getting longer and spring is officially 50 days away. It’s leaves, buds, rebirth and nesting… sweet new happenings for gardens and wildlife!
Though cold temperatures and snow may persist, once birds are ready to claim territories and find mates… the weather is inconsequential. Such rough starts aren’t always successful, but alas Mother Nature is resilient.
Good food helps, so filling wild bird feeders could mean the difference between life or death in some locales. Folks who monitor bluebird trails have reported starvation (in late winter-early spring) as cause of death many times, because natural food sources are unavailable. Simply put, food helps keep birds warm in frigid weather.
These deluxe fruit & nut wreaths offer a power-packed snack for many friendly fliers. Premium ingredients means no waste and there’s even more than meets the eye.
The straw packing is awesome nesting material, cut the raffia bow and remove gold ribbon and there’s more nest material. Cut these strips short (for nestling’s safety) and use the black net that’s enclosed to offer materials. Simply hang from a branch where birds will see it.
Got a cat or dog? Save the hair from their brush! Add these to your home-made nest bag to delight chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and others. Decorative mosses and feathers are a few more favorites, but natural is always best. Even birds who don’t use houses (cardinals, jays, finches) will likely grab a bit for their nests too!
Steer clear of dyed or preserved material, and if Fido or Fluffy is being treated with flea/tick medications… nix the pet hair. If you reside anywhere near a farm or stables, ask if you can have some horse, goat or alpaca hair. They may look at you like you’re crazy- but hey, it’s all for the birds 🙂
So there you have it, a killer wild bird feeder for now- containg some very bird-friendly packaging for spring… and they’re even on sale!